From left: Dr. Robert Reising, Roleene Rhodes, Chris Miller, Peter Varney, Mae Parker, Betsy Herron, Robert Herron and Martha Lamm.
Historians believe that Native American sports legend Jim Thorpe hit his first professional home run playing for a baseball team from Rocky Mount, N.C.
It was fitting that a group from Rocky Mount hit a home run for the Jim Thorpe Endowed Scholarship at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
Twin County Community Pride, a non-profit group from Rocky Mount, made a contribution that allowed the scholarship to make its first award. Twin County Community Pride is a community service group that is currently planning a historical museum and hall of fame, which will hold its first induction ceremony this fall, said President Chris Miller.
"We are pleased to have a connection with UNCP, and we look forward to learning more about the American Indian Studies program," Miller said.
American Indian Studies Professor Dr. Robert Reising is a Thorpe scholar and originator of the scholarship honoring the sports hero. Dr. Reising was a recent guest in Rocky Mount where he delivered several lectures on Thorpe.
"This is a very special day for me," Dr. Reising said. "I am delighted to stand before you today to say the Thorpe scholarship has become a reality."
"Twin County Community Pride took the scholarship over the top," he said. "In 1909, Jim Thorpe played his first professional baseball game for a Rocky Mount team, so it is appropriate that a Rocky Mount community organization make the contribution that put it over the top."
With the gift, the Thorpe Scholarship became an endowed or perpetual fund from which to make student awards.
UNCP student and American Indian Studies major Betsy Herron of Wadesboro, N.C., was announced as the first recipient of the scholarship. Herron and her husband Robert are co-pastors for three Methodist churches near Wadesboro.
"This scholarship means so much to me," Herron said. "UNCP is a great place to study, and American Indian Studies is an exceptional program."
"This scholarship will make it possible for more people to learn the wisdom of Native America," Herron said.
Herron, who ministers to the Bethel, New Hope and Long Pine churches, said she has been fascinated by Native religion for many years, and she expects to graduate in 2005.